Spring 2018 Feature: Louisiana Doves

By on January 4, 2018

By John Flores

An excerpt from Louisiana Doves…James Whitaker, a biologist for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, turned his truck onto an oil field service road on a hot, humid August morning last summer. For years, the road was utilized by Chevron Corporation and provided access to one of the company’s well locations on Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Grand Chenier, Louisiana.

The company has long since removed its production equipment, where the remaining pad in the refuge’s marsh now makes an excellent capture site for banding mourning doves.

Coming to a stop a short distance from the location, Whitaker picked up his binoculars and glassed 21 walk-in traps made from vinyl-coated square wire mesh. The traps were baited just after daylight, and at the time the biologist was making his first run of the morning.

Since 2003, when the National Banding Program for doves was initiated, Louisiana, like most states in the lower 48, has participated in the effort annually during July and August. Louisiana happens to be part of the Eastern Management Unit that includes 27 states of which 19 hold annual dove seasons.

The objective, says Whitaker, with any migratory game bird is typically learning survivorship and estimating population densities of resident birds. Biologists also look at band recovery rates and their locations, which can provide them with migration patterns.

Read more in the Spring 2018 Issue of Upland Almanac. <Buy the Upland Almanac Spring 2018 Issue> or <Subscribe to Upland Almanac>